Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 1:04 p.m.
The Rebels will play in front of a national audience at least five times this football season, the Mountain West announced today.
Last week, the league released its slate of Friday games on TV and today it announced 34 Saturday contests set for either CBS Sports Network or the ESPN networks. The Rebels will have four conference games on ESPN networks to go along with a home game against Northern Illinois on CBSSN.
That NIU game was moved from Saturday to Friday, Sept. 12, with kickoff at 7 p.m. Kickoff times and additional TV information for the remaining seven games will be announced at a later date.
UNLV’s conference games to appear on the ESPN networks are at San Diego State (Sept. 27), at San Jose State (Oct. 4), at Utah State (Oct. 25) and the season finale at home against UNR (Nov. 29).
Under the league’s current TV bonus structure, the Rebels’ slate could pull in anywhere from nothing to $2 million. The Mountain West awards $300,000 for weekday games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, NBC or Fox and $500,000 for Saturday games on those networks.
Games on CBSSN don’t net a bonus. Neither do appearances on ESPNU or ESPN3.com, which are both possible landing spots for the Rebels’ games. ESPN generally assigns games to one of its designated networks about 12 days before the game.
Last year, UNLV and Colorado State, both bowl teams, were the only eligible teams not to receive any bonus money from the league’s payout system. Hawaii is ineligible because it’s a football-only member.
Boise State led the way with $1.6 million last season, and the Broncos are guaranteed to pull in at least another $1.4 million this season. Boise State has at least 11 national appearances on tap this season while three other Mountain West teams have at least eight compared to the Rebels’ five.
When UNLV learned it would be shut out of the money in the first year of the league’s new bonus structure, Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy suggested she would broach the subject at the Mountain West’s annual meeting.
“Maybe we can come up with a better concept,” Kunzer-Murphy said in November.
Those meetings are coming up the first week of May in Phoenix.